| The Money Trap |

Putting Our House in Order

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The Players

Mira Levine*, 56, homemaker

Daniel Levine*, 58, investment advisor

Yossi*, financial coach at Mesila, an organization that helps people maintain financial stability


The Background


ou know how you sometimes get a bug in your head that just doesn’t let up? Well, that’s what happened with my retirement house idea. Daniel and I had been coasting nicely along until then, raising our six kids in our suburban out-of-town community.

Daniel was making a good salary as an investment advisor, and though I was officially trained as a speech therapist, it had been many years since I’d actually worked significantly in the field. First, I had my babies to care for, and then those babies suddenly became teenagers, and before I turned around, my youngest kids were in school full time, and my oldest were in shidduchim.

So, we’d been primarily surviving on a single income, but luckily, it was a good one. And Daniel and I are blessed — as many couples aren’t, I know — in having similar approaches to money. We both believe in saving for the future, and neither of us are big spenders. That’s not to imply that I’m overly spartan in my lifestyle. I enjoy my comforts in life as much as the next person, and I’ve also always felt the need to maintain a certain standard of living, appropriate to Daniel’s income and our social standing in the community. Our simchahs, for example, were a sight to see. But in general, I’m a careful spender, and am not the type to go on a shopping spree just for the fun of it. I prefer the security of knowing we have money in the bank, and, especially, money set aside for the future.

Which brings me to the house. Eight years ago, when Daniel turned 50, I felt like I was jolted by a painful wake-up call. You know, the intense, shake-your-bones-until-your-skull-vibrates kind of alarm. Fifty! My gosh, how had that happened? We were just newlyweds!

Old age and retirement seemed suddenly frighteningly imminent, and, I realized, it was time to start thinking about what we wanted that retirement to look like. Both our married children had recently bought homes in the same New York community, and there was every reason to believe most of our children would follow suit in moving to the metropolitan area. What was almost certain was that nobody would be staying around in our town.

“When the time comes, I want to be near the kids,” I said to Daniel. “I think it makes sense to buy a house there now.”

My dear husband looked at me like I was crazy. “You want to buy a second home,” he said, in the tone of voice he probably used with clients who told him they want to invest in the rotary phone market. “Now, when we’re helping to support two kids and have another two in shidduchim.”

But, like I said, I’d gotten this bug in my head, and the next time we went to visit Chavi and Dini, I called a realtor and asked her to show me some properties in the neighborhood. That’s how I found my dream retirement home. (Excerpted from Mishpacha, Issue 713)

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